A Trauma-Informed Approach to Library Services

ALA. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9780838919811. pap. $59.99. PRO MEDIA
Tolley (East Tennessee State Univ.) argues that libraries should rely on a trauma-informed framework when providing social and other supportive services. The framework is based on empathy, focuses on the user rather than the process, and emphasizes physical, social, and psychological safety. With sensitivity and nuance, Tolley examines a variety of topics: how the arrangement of furniture can make users feel safer; ways to make patrons feel secure during interactions such as the reference interview; and libraries’ history of institutionalized racism. She further provides an overview of adverse childhood experiences (ACE)—which include abuse, family mental illness, incarceration of a parent, and neglect—and explores how a trauma-informed framework can shape approaches to public and academic library services and environments. She helpfully offers an assessment tool for libraries and a three-year plan for implementing this framework and advocates for staff training and the development of a robust peer support system. Another self-assessment tool in the appendix allows readers to get a personal ACE score, and Tolley recommends self-care practices for staff.
VERDICT Library staff will appreciate suggestions on rethinking customer services from this framework and the tools to implement it.
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